Neighbourshood: We want more!

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Like us, you’ve probably been loving Neighbours YouTube fan show, Neighbourshood, but after ten brilliant episodes it’s come to an end – hopefully not forever. Fronted by the hilarious Ben “Stingray” Nicholas, we looked forward to it every week so here are just a few reasons why it’s so great and needs to return!

Ben Nicholas – The Perfect Presenter

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Where would Neighbourshood be without its excellent host? Ben Nicholas brings every bit of the energy to Neighbourshoood that he brought to the parent show during his tenure. There was a reason why Stingray was a breakout favourite of his era: Ben has such a natural charm and charisma that he remains a pleasure to watch all these years later. He clearly has a great relationship with the longtime cast he knew from his original stint and quickly seems to have gelled with the slew of newer cast who joined in the years inbetween. He also has a real affinity and affection for Neighbours and that shines through every segment. To be honest, tongue in cheek as it is, we really do wish Neighbours could believably bring back Stingray. His natural comedic skills would be an asset to the show in any era. But with that impossible, we’d love to see him get a chance to wreak more havoc behind the scenes in a second series!

Seeing Cast Favourites in a New Light

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One of the things we’ve loved most about Neighbourshood is seeing a number of the cast getting a chance to shine in a way that we’ve never seen them before. Away from playing the characters onscreen, it’s been so much fun to see more of the people behind the actors. Different from the Q&A videos of the past, we loved how natural, relaxed and improvised Ben’s chats with the various cast members have been. Whether it be the cast getting being absolutely terrified by Ben’s pranks, their faux (and sometimes real!) horror at being named the weeks’ caketaker or best of all, the co-host aspect – it’s been so entertaining! The latter in particular never failed to make us smile as Ben’s chemistry with the cast removed any sense of awkwardness or stiltedness and frankly, we could’ve watched several hours of Ben and Rebekah Elmaloglou messing about and falling off chairs!

The In-Jokes

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The best part of having a fan show is being able to involve the existing fandom with jokes and winks that include them. Neighbourshood did this perfectly with references to ‘Terage’, the Brennans being topless, many of Susan’s adoptees ending up dead and other references just for fans. And don’t ask us why, but Mavournee Hazel playing the tuba, ala Harold Bishop, during the credits just cracked us up every time. This is a fan show made for the geeky fans like us who love all of the little Neighbours quirks and we love that Neighbours aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves.

The Pranks

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One of the highlights of Neighbourshood without doubt has been the weekly pranking of the cast. Yes, it’s simple, yes, it’s silly and it’s downright hilarious. One would think knowing Ben is on set would raise the guards of the cast but it would seem not as Ben effortlessly week after week frightened the life out of a number of cast. We loved that it didn’t feel fake, forced or put-on for the camera for the sake of a funny segment – he clearly did manage to terrify them and the reactions provided some absolutely hilarious moments. Our favourite? It doesn’t get much better than Rebekah Elmaloglou in episode 1 literally running away from masked Ben, screaming and launching into an expletive-laden attack on Ben. Hilarious!

The #BringBackStingray Skits

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Never, in the history of all soap, have we wanted to undo a death so badly as we do Stingray, seriously who cares about believability or the fact Stingray’s ashes were scattered, we want him back. Neighbourshood took the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how possible (or plausible) this idea might be in a series of campaign pleas by Ben and granted, it’s not very likely but the sketches were brilliant. The best one? As much as we loved the first one, with Ben recreating the infamous death scene and getting a diagnosis from wonder Doc, Karl, it had to be the witness protection idea. Of course that involved the other fan favourite talking point – is Dee still alive?! In this skit Toadie had Dee in the basement and Stingray had to go into witness protection for his own safety when he learnt about the cover up! Now if only that were real…

Caketaker of the Week

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There was someone oddly satisfying about seeing the cast be presented with a nice cake and then be read a series of mean(ish) tweets about their character. Not only did we love the name of the feature, taking us back to the days of spiggin’ huftas and the glorious Timmins family, but the feature gave us a good laugh seeing the cast – sometimes hopelessly – defend their character. It was especially funny when the cast weren’t expecting their behaviour to be judged so harshly and they were left sheepishly smiling, just like Kip Gamblin who has to play useless Brad!

So there we have it – six very good reasons why Neighbourshood was so great and why it deserves more episodes! Make it happen please Neighbours!

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Hits and Misses – 16-20 Feb 2015

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Hits

Sensational Sheila

er19_0004_Layer-1There’s no denying what a great joy Sheila Canning brings to Ramsay Street and our lives. Not only is she the coolest gran but the most loveable motormouth. We adore the way she winds up Lou and would clip him round the ear if only she had the chance and this week saw her on one of her outlandish ideas – Dining in the Dark. It might have been a bit of a disaster but didn’t she look amazing in those night vision goggles? We also have to mention how much we love her family scenes. We’ve totally taken the Cannings to our hearts and we’re excited by the prospect of Kyle working with her at The Waterhole now too. It’s great to see her back on her feet and stronger than ever.

Sisters Doing It For Themselves

er19_0000_Layer-5It was a great week for Paige and Imogen who finally spent some much needed time together. The only issue with Paige having such a wide family circle is that occasionally it has left her ignoring one side of the family for the other. However, after a couple of ‘Paige Turner’ heavy months, it was fantastic to see her bond with Imogen. The topless protest plot with certainly unexpected and led to some great comedy, wonderfully played by Ariel and Olympia, as well as a nice reference to Imogen’s ongoing body issues. Not only that but it was great to see Imogen come out of her shell and try her best to have fun this week. As the only member of the teen quadrangle acting with grace and maturity, we hope things really begin to look up for her.

What We Did in the 90s

er19_0003_Layer-2Long terms fans were pleasantly surprised when Sue Parker, last seen in 1987, returned to Neighbours last year, every bit the thorn in the side of our Ramsay Street regulars as she was back then. And even better, by making her a councillor, it has ensured Sue has a reason to pop in and out in recent months but it has been her most recent stint that we’ve enjoyed the most. The reveal that she and Paul shared a stolen kiss and their desperation to hide it brought the two rivals together and allowed us to see a whole new side of Sue: a little softer with a difficult domestic life. The photograph story may not have led to the exciting murder reveal some were expecting but it led to some nice scenes between Paul and Sue – and dare we say it, a potential romantic partner?

Misses

Early Departure

er19_0001_Layer-4Not so much of a miss, more of disappointment. This week saw Cat trying to get the Rebecchi’s to take her in, having told them that her foster parents were neglecting her. This was all lies of course but Cat made such a fun and welcome addition to the Rebecchi house that we couldn’t help but be really disappointed to see her leave, possibly for good. Toadie was a lot of fun around her and it’s a shame that she couldn’t stick around. With the Rebecchis shaping up to be the new Kennedys we wouldn’t be surprised to see them take on a new tearaway though.

Fools Rush In

er19_0002_Layer-3No you haven’t got deja vu – we’ve put Danber at the bottom of list again. We wish we didn’t have to, but things haven’t got any better. Having sworn off men a mere few weeks ago, this week saw Amber reunite with hopeless hippie drip Daniel – complete with talk about fate, destiny, rainbows, magic crystals, unicorns and peace (we might have zoned out and guessed). Then after a few sepia flashbacks of Rain, Amber and Daniel decided to get engaged again. Yay! Or not. Amber needed time on her own, independence and to find a life of her own and instead it’s back to square one based on coincidence. Had Karl been wandering by when the car was stolen would she have declared him her soulmate? You’ve got to wonder.

Neighbours 2014: Top Ten Best Bits

It’s been a great year for Neighbours, so much so we wanted to celebrate the best bits of the year. We think 2014 was the year Neighbours really cemented itself as a soap in great shape. 2015 looks set to be even better, but let’s take a look back at our favourite bits of this year.

10 – Neighbours Tornado!

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When Neighbours announced a tornado storyline, a lot of fans were unsurprisingly worried. How would this ever be managed on the small budget on the show? The answer is quite well indeed! Set aside what felt like hours of Amber whining, what we got was a slick, well shot story. Cleverly making use of Power Road and great design effects, it was brilliant to see the roof torn off Amber’s car as the tornado waged destruction on Grease Monkeys. More impressive however was the aftermath. That incredible shot of Ramsay Street, the morning after, wrecked and a shell of its usual self had a brilliant visual impact and the attention to detail was stunning. Even better was the fact that the tornado served as a catalyst for the reveal of the kiss – one of the biggest plots of the year – making it clear that Neighbours could nail both style and substance.

9 – Kyle and Georgia’s Wedding

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Who doesn’t love a good wedding? They’re a soap staple and this year it was the turn of Kyle and Georgia to get hitched. Sure it wasn’t without its disasters – like Georgia ending up stranded before the wedding – but all in all it was a cute and refreshingly happy day. We’ve not been too fond of plots where these two have struggled with problems in their relationship but keeping them together and in fun plots seems to have worked well for them. Plus we’ll never forget their hilarious attempts at role play to keep the spark after their honeymoon. Really funny stuff. We know there will be Canning drama ahead but we hope they keep the new Mr and Mrs Canning happy together.

8 – Kate Ramsay Shot Dead

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How do you solve a problem like Kate Ramsay? Apparently you shoot her in the back. Kate had been one of the more divisive characters in the show with some loving her but others were long tired of her various romantic pursuits and victim status. When it was announced that Ashleigh Brewer would be bowing out of the she and Scott McGregor would be returning for a guest stint, a happy ending was a foregone conclusion surely? Except it didn’t happen. In a shock twist, Kate was gunned down by Victor Cleary, as vengeance for Paul killing his brother Gus ten years prior. Such exits are not what we expect from the traditionally “safe” Neighbours but that rareness is what made it work. Surprising, exciting and emotive, we have to praise the show for pulling the rug from below us and giving Kate the iconic exit no one expected.

7 – Coward Punch

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Chris being knocked out by a drunken punch by Josh got a bit preachy at times but it was a well written story that seemed to divide viewers. While we were a bit fed up to see Chris in hospital again, it was impossible not to feel his plight as he struggled to cope following his head injury. We were pleasantly surprised at how sympathetic Josh came across too and his pained regret meant we were relieved at his lesser sentence. James Mason and Harley Bonner did a fantastic job with this morally grey issue so it was an easy highlight of the year.

6 – The Josh and Naomi Affair

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This time last year Josh was up there with our most disliked characters. Then a magical thing happened: the Jamber love story ended and Josh became likeable. Then, quicker than it takes to strip in a lift, Josh indulged a little no-strings hook up with newcomer and amazing older woman Naomi. We were totally hooked. They were funny, flirty and sexy and they actually seemed pretty great for one another. We enjoyed every second. Of course it wasn’t to last and we were sad to see it finish, especially because the inevitable prospect of losing Josh to Amber’s charisma black hole is something we dread when he’s now one of our favourites.

5 – The Book of Secrets

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The saucy Fifty Shades tribute started out as a simple throwaway comedy plot which grew and grew into a hilarious long running comedy plot involving so many characters and in-jokes. Easily one of the greatest things Neighbours did this year and it just seemed somehow so wrong yet so right that Karl would be the one behind the kinky tale. Not only did it give us great Kennedy moments, it left many of the residents flustered including our favourite Sheila who begun having saucy dreams about Lou and then Paul! It’s the type of comedy Neighbours is so good at and we hope this isn’t the end for The Book of Secrets!

4 – The Kennedys

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In 2014 the show celebrated twenty years of the Kennedy family and what a celebration it was! Karl and Susan recovered from a very quiet 2013 by coming to fore once more with a great mix of everyday drama and classic, inimitable Kennedy comedy. Jackie and Alan were as ever in their element and it was fantastic to see the spotlight shine on them once more. Not only this but we were overjoyed to see returns from Zeke, Mal and in particular, Libby and Ben made overdue and welcome returns. And as the year ended, Karl and Susan in true Kennedy form took in a new stray in the form of troubled Nate. The pinnacle of the anniversary came in the form of a special episode, filled to the brim with flashbacks and references to the past. It was a touching look back at the characters’ amazing history and an absolute joy to watch.

3 – Brad and Terese’s marriage woes

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The arrival of Paige Smith had a massive impact on the show and characters but no more so than the effect she had on Terese and Brad’s marriage. What once seemed like one of the most stable marriages in the street slowly but surely began to break down in a series of lies, hurt, mistakes and arguments – and understandably so! Brad’s betrayal caused Terese’s deeply hidden insecurities to bubble to the surface and it wasn’t long before they pair’s relationship grew toxic and bitter. By year’s end, we loved hearing that their relationship was born from an affair and getting some much needed backstory on the family. In addition, Terese has quickly become one of the show’s most fascinating characters and been a real star throughout 2014.

2 – Rebecchi struggles

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It was a big, big year for the Rebecchi family this year as they waved goodbye to Callum and faced their biggest hurdle in the form of minxy Naomi Canning. What we loved most however was that this wasn’t a cliché affair story – far from it. The reason we really loved the Rebecchis this year was the fact that it brought some of the best character-driven writing the show has seen in a long time. Eve and Ryan delivered as always and cemented their place as one of the show’s most iconic couples. Sonya’s addictions and backstory have a constant impact on every move she makes and it’s been incredible to witness the contributed exploration of such a complex character. Toadie’s loyalty to his wife was both moving, and much welcome in the modern day soap era of affairs and betrayal. Time and again we got powerful, raw and superbly performed scenes and we can only hope 2015 remains as strong for this fantastic family.

1 – Paige Smith Revealed as Lauren and Brad’s Child

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One of the most engaging and interesting stories this year had to be Paige Smith’s arrival and subsequent reveal as Lauren and Brad’s long lost daughter. It was a story that rocked both families before she even appeared on screen and her reveal set a chain of events that totally transformed the Turner and Willis families. Not only were the reveal scenes beautifully played and gripping, but Olympia Valance has made a fantastic addition to the cast. Paige is gutsy and headstrong and we love her interactions with her new siblings. We hope to see more of the same great material for Paige in 2015.

Hits and Misses – 1-5 Dec 2014

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Hits

Good Neighbours

er12__0004_Layer-2Well, it’s the end of the year for Neighbours and our final number one position of the year could only go to… Neighbours, as a whole. Yes, it’s been a fantastic year for the show and we’re happy to see the show thrive. 2013 was nothing but the appetiser, the blank slate for 2014 to build on, and boy did it build upon it. Fantastic long running plots such as the Paige saga, Toadie and Sonya’s marriage problems, the Turner and Willis marriage crises have reaffirmed the show’s focus on family with the older characters, the parents, FINALLY getting the attention and material they deserve. Great new additions like Olympia Valance and Morgana O’Reilly brought fresh energy to the show. And the show’s return to character based humour has brought about a welcoming return to form as we’ve giggled at the Book of Secrets and Karl’s porcelain pig saga.  With such a strong 2014, we can only imagine 2015 will continue to go onwards and upwards.

UK Cliffhangers

er12__0004_Layer-5We love the the show now delivers finale episodes tailored to a UK audience. It’s much nicer than taking a hiatus on an average episode and the next best thing to airing the show on the same day as our fellow Australian viewers. This year we got a thrilling finale and our favourites had to be the nail biting Sonya and Terese cliffhangers. Eve Morey as usual delivered a real and powerful performance and we were shocked at how tense and scary the final scene was as she screamed at her tormentor to let her in to her crying child. Similarly Terese being trapped in the hotel room with her manipulative ex has us fearing what may happen next and was refreshingly dark for Neighbours. We can’t wait until January to find out what happens next.

Naomi’s Back!

er12__0004_Layer-4Oh Naomi – what a sight for sore eyes! Although Neighbours is in a great patch right now we’d be lying if we said we didn’t miss Naomi in her little break. We’re thrilled to have her back as she’s such a lively character. We don’t entirely believe she’s over Toadie but we hope she can find some happiness of her own. With the Cannings looking to take centre stage we can only hope to see even more of Naomi because she really brightens up our screens!

Misses

Shallow Grave

er12__0004_Layer-1We loved the cliffhangers in the UK finale of Neighbours – there was just one thing that left us a bit perplexed and that’s Susan looking like she’s about to be buried alive! We don’t really know why Nate’s up and digging in the night but we can only imagine it’s PTSD related. We’re glad that his trauma hasn’t been forgotten but this plot twist – of Susan falling into the grave – is just a little bit bonkers. It should be dramatic and a little dark but instead it made us giggle a little! In the UK we’ve got to leave Susan there, lying in the shovelled dirt but as it’s Susan she’s used to these near-death experiences so we’re not too worried!

Wake-up Call

er12__0004_Layer-3Brad, Brad, Brad. We fear this is becoming a regular fixture on the blog but he really did outdo himself this week. Not only were we annoyed at his latent resentment towards his wife for making him get a job – welcome to the real world, Brad! But we were annoyed at his unwillingness to realise that his jealousy over Ezra is exactly how Terese must have felt about Lauren. And his reaction to Terese being upfront about Ezra led to a shocking display of hypocrisy as he failed to remember that in the wake of his kiss with Lauren, he didn’t go a day without meeting Lauren for a private, personal chat despite being fully aware of the hurt he was causing his wife. We hope Terese’s current predicament will be the big wake-up call Brad needs!

Next week we countdown our favourite plots of 2014!

Hits and Misses – 8-12 Sep 2014

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Hits

It’s All About Chemistry

chemistryNeighbours is really lucky right now to be exploring some natural chemistry in their couplings (Daniel and Amber aside – more on that later). This week we saw Paige and Brennan sizzle with their competitive spirit and (finally) share a fiery kiss mid-storm. We’re also huge Josh and Naomi fans and their flirtation continues to be a great watch and we enjoyed seeing a more romantic side to their hook-up. Then there’s Bailey and his space camp rival Alice who aren’t in a couple stage yet but their sparring is a sparky watch – we love their chemistry!

Ups and Downs of Married Lifetonya

Toadie and Sonya find themselves as one of our highlights this week as their continuing marriage dilemmas make them Neighbours’ most well-written young couple in many years. Fresh from the Naomi incident, it’s great to see that the aftermath is being subtly played out as Sonya struggles to get over her issues of trust. Most heartwarming, however, was seeing the couple deal with it in a mature, reasonable, caring manner and long may their loving marriage continue.

Paige’s Progress

paige2The wonderful Paige yet again finds herself a highlight of the show and it’s become clear that the show has found a star in Olympia Valance. Feisty, fiery and fun, Paige is a joy to watch and this week it was great to see her develop bonds and interact with all her siblings – but also Terese. We’re hoping to see lots more of the pair’s tenuous relationship in the future, as well as many more scenes with Paige’s brothers and sisters – each one unique and developing at their own pace. As well as that, it was great to see the long-awaited relationship with Brennan heat up this week. Paige remains one to watch.

Misses

Nate Kinskinate

We still can’t make up our mind on Nate. The idea of a new ‘adoptee’ of the Kennedys has its appeal, as well as having a character with a deep backstory but we’re just unsure that the gruff, monosyllabic troubled guy works for us at the moment. Even though we now know he’s not a serial killer, he’s still less of a haunted man and more creepy! It remains to be seen if his relationship with Chris turns into anything watchable – right now it’s a bit flat and miserable.

Dire Danber

danberBoy, where to begin with ‘Danber’? Daniel took his free-spirited hippie ways even further this week when he suggested Amber and he pack in all their future plans and go travelling. Both of them dropped their work responsibilities to skinny dip and talk nonsense about the beauty of spontaneity. Irritating beyond belief. Like ‘Jamber’ before them, Danber are so self-involved, immature and bratty we just can’t find a single thing we like about them.

Scene of the Week – 25-29 Aug 2014

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When it came to scene of the week, it’s two in a row for the ongoing Paige plot. This week she finally had a stand-off with granny Kathy, and sought the answers she’s wanted to know all her life. Olympia continues to prove herself a fantastic new signing for the show and the wonderful Tina Bursill excels in her role as the ice-cold, calculating Kathy. With strong performances, a tense atmosphere and the eventual realisation that the women are more alike each other than they ever thought, this scene had us gagging for more of the complex Kathy’s relationship with her new-found granddaughter.

Scene of the Week – 18-22 Aug 2014

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There was some stiff competition when it came to choosing a scene of the week – merely from this one story alone! However, in the end, there could only be one winner. Months of waiting paid off beautifully when Lauren was finally reunited with missing daughter Paige and the pair shared an emotional heart to heart. Wonderfully acted and written, Kate Kendall and Olympia Valance excelled themselves and made the reveal worth waiting for. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for the extended families.